Any serious look at the Scriptures leads us back to a principle that often gets confused. We cannot escape it: The Bible calls us to obedience. We are all commanded to obey God.
This may be the reason behind why religion gets such a firm foothold in our minds… and in our lives. How can we be obedient without rules to obey? How do we follow orders, if we do not have commands to follow?
Religion, and our religious minds, want specifics. We want formulas – that assure that if we do X + Y, we will get Z. We want things like: pray this prayer, in just this way, and get these results.
At the very heart of religion is manipulation. And the focus of this manipulation is the Almighty. We want to make our rules, His rules. We want to make religion, and religious practices, His idea. So our efforts can merit His results.
So, we tend to look for rules to follow. Things to do. Things to avoid. All along, we are trying to make obedience to Him a matter of observing all the rules, faithfully.
But, here’s the truth: God is not looking for our obedience… to a bunch of rules.
Even the Ten Commandments are more general in scope. They give us principles to follow – without the specifics. That is why the Jews of Jesus’day, had taken those Ten Commandments and turned them into 612 rules to follow. And why Jesus came and rebuked them for turning the principles of God into a mile-long checklist of behavior that no one could keep (see Matthew 23:16-33!)!
Human nature, especially when it comes to matters of God, wants to magnify our responsibilities. But God’s Nature desires to simplify our responsibilities. Man takes Ten and makes it 612. God takes Ten and makes it Two! Jesus said it best: “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ And “’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.’” (from Mark 12:30-31)
Obedience turns from specific steps, regimented rules, and meticulous morals… to a simple, singular-thought, lifestyle.
Obedience simplified. Obedience, focused. Obedience, God-like.
When we think about it, this is exactly what Jesus specialized in, when He came to be with us. We can narrow all the works and words of Jesus down to just one thing… LOVE! He was love in motion. Love in action. Love in motivation.
He came to show us what obedience to God was really like – so we could simply observe and do, according to the Master’s example.
Are we called to obey God? Without a doubt. But that obedience is not the complicated, particular, specific, “to-do” list that religion (even some Christian churches) has made it to be. Obedience is just simply: loving God, and loving people – every moment of every day of our lives.
Prayer focus: God, center my thoughts upon loving You and loving people… just as You love me.